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Ten Great Weeks in Italy

Author: Host Ciao (More Trip Reviews by Host Ciao)
Date of Trip: October 2007



Heading North
I leave Naples tomorrow--yes, I am a bit behind on this--and head to Genoa for two days after a seven hour train ride. But my feet need the rest so it will be OK.

It's been a while since I could get to a computer and I have lots of emails still to delete so instead of any details, I am going to give you some brief impressions of where I have been since my last report. I will fill in more details later for the Independent Traveler. I think I was still in Sorrento in my last report so here goes.

Capri in the rain and lots of it, but that didn't dampen (excuse please; I couldn't resist) my enthusiasm for the church or San Michele in Anacapri with its beautiful majolica floor showing the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve being evicted. Also toured Villa San Michele, a beautiful home that belonged to Axel Munthe and then theGardens of Augustus.

Pompeii provided sun shine which was great; mud there isnot fun. I listened to Everest erupting and an eye witness account by Pliny the Younger thanks to the excellent audio guide. I recommend it. I did the tourist thing and went to see "Sorrento Musical" which was fun with enjoyable music. However, I still can't figure out why those of us that opted for dinner before the show hadto be there two hours before.

Naples is frustrating, filthy, fun, and fantastic. I went to two museums I had not visited before, Capodimonte and San Martini--both full of marvelous art. I enjoyed my walks through Spacanapoli, spent too much adding to my Nativity collection, saw two demonstrations that tied up traffic including the taxis I was in, and I also endured a wild taxi ride looking for Mailboxes, Etc. My hotel has its own restaurant so I was not out wandering at night near the railroad station.

My toes hurt! That is one of my main memories of Genoa. Some of the hills are so steep that my feet slid right into the toes of my shoes. I never lifted my eyes from the paving when going down because I had visions of tripping and just sliding on down the hill on my face or twisting and rolling on down. Actually the hills were not too bad to climb slowly. The aquarium is great; there are neat museums and art filled churches.

How about hot chocolate that was like eating warm chocolate pudding only better. I swear it was so thick it hardly ran off the spoon. This was in Turin, known for its chocolate and, of course, more museums, royal dwellings, the Shroud, and a great movie museum that is lots of fun.

I enjoyed my five days in Milan and had great weather. Only one day was windy and cold enough that I had to put on my gloves. Several people told me how lucky we were with the weather. I had hoped to see the full facade of the Duomo, but it is still about a quarter under wraps. It is so ornate that it is taking a very long time to test and fix. I saw Da Vinci's Last Supper, went to the Ambrosiana Gallery, that I had never visited before, toured the Monumental Cemetary--and I do mean monumental.

Now I am in Verona and had to buy my tacky souvenir for this trip. I spent a whole 3 euros on a little Juliet and Romeo perched on her balcony--about two inches high. Tomorrow will be a busy day since now that it is winter most of the churches are closed on Monday along with the museums so I did not accomplish my goals for today. Will try to report from Venice, but who knows when and where I will find a computer.

Venice
On the trip from Verona to Venice, I stopped for most of a day in Padua. I took a bus from the train station to Il Santo, the Basilica of St. Anthony and wandered there and in other parts of the complex. Then I walked back through town as suggested by Rick Steves, visited one of the markets and came to a cafe which I realized was one I had read about, the Cafe Pedrocchi, which has been a landmark of the city since 1831. I had hot chocolate served in a little silver pot with a dish of panne, whipped cream,--very good! Then I went on up to the Scrovegni Chapel with its Giotto frescoes. I had reservations, but was able to go right in when I arrived an hour early as instructed. I would term this a must-see in Padua.

Well, the best laid plans and all of that! I am staying at the Ala Hotel here in Venice, and one I particularly like because it is so close to the vaporetto stop and there are not bridge steps to climb over. Well that was true for one day. I didn't read very carefully or I would have known that coming up this Wednesday is the celebration of the Salute, the church of St. Mary of Health. They build a bridge on pontoons and it starts right next to "my" vaporetto stop which is closed. So tomorrow when I leave I will have to haul myself and my luggage over two sets of bridge steps or I may just cross the Salute bride to that stop and have some very few easy steps. The celebration is one that has gone on for years since the church was built in thanks for the ending of the plague. People go to the church by crossing the bridge and burn candles there asking for good health.

As I feared when I started my ramblings in Venice, I had planned to cover too much, but I gave it a really good try. I will need the train ride to Florence to rest my feet and make up three days of journal writing. Of course, my plans were not helped by my getting lost more than once. And I know this is supposed to happen in Venice, but sometimes it is frustrating. I did pretty much what I had planned, but had to give up on a couple of museums and churches that sounded interesting.

I had bought a Venice Pass for seven days. This included unlimited use of the vaporetto, free entrance to the civic museums, reduced entrance for some, free entrance to the 16 Chorus churches (ones run by an organization dedicated to preserving them) and two free entrances per day to the Commune of Venice WC's, which are placed in strategic heavy tourist areas. These can come in handy since, while bars and restaurants have them, you need to be a patron, and these are often not marvelous.

I managed to eat several Venetian specialties, which I like very much: fegato (liver and onions) fried calamari, pasta fagioli (bean soup) and mixed fried fish. Had a very fun dinner last night with a couple I met through the Travelzine, one of the message boards I read and sometimes write to. Members schedule get togethers when they connect in messages about where they will be.

My hour on this machine is about up. I had lots of emails to delete as usual. And I must finish packing. I have to be off early because the vaporetto trip to the railroad station is pretty slow and I have to catch a train for a 10 minute ride to Mestre on the mainland to pick up my train to Florence.

I will report from there.

Tuscany
Happy Thanksgiving a couple of days late. I hope you all had a great holiday. I had splurged on my last dinner in Venice so decided I could do without a festive meal. I did celebrate on a walking tour called a Food Crawl. This is a Context tour lead by Emily Wise-Miller who has written a food guide to Florence. We stopped about 4 or 5 places. First we had a bit of Italian sparkling wine (not prosecco) with a small truffle butter panini. Our next stop was a new place she had found so it is not in her book and I couldn't find it this morning. Oh well! We had two kinds of salami and three of cheese with a dab of raspberry and pepper jam to go with the cheese and some Chianti. We also stopped to have an almond paste cookie and at a chocolate shop where we tasted four kinds and then some gelato. This was a serious gelato place. The goodies are in stainless steel containers with lids, not piled up as the many gelato places you find on the main drag. All in all a good way to have a Thanksgiving treat.

Today (Saturday) is art day. I have already been to the Uffizi and must leave before long for my reservation for the Accademia to salute David once again and listen to the guards shout "no photo!". There, of course, is much more to see there than David and a couple of other Michelangelo's.



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